The Meaning Of

During a discussion about the meaning of life with my friend, we somehow began writing this story. I would write an installment, and then she would, completely making it up as we went. This is the result. Basically, for 70 some years, my friend searches for the grand question and answer to the meaning of life. Finally, after all that time, we come in contact again.

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28. XXVIII

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My hunch was right. But how could I believe this homeless looking man? Everyone I'd trusted betrayed me. He told me his name was Jason and that he didn't always look like a hobo. I let him clean up while I looked at the map that I found in the dashboard drawer. It showed where I needed to go from here. Jason came out of the bathroom and he looked very young, like mid 30s. Instead of assuming, I asked his age. He told me that he was 72. 72? How could that be possible? He looked so young? I asked him how he could look that young, but he ignored me. He did tell me that he could drive the boat. The drive was about 4 hours long to Delta Junction. I could finally see why no one could find Carmen. How did she find this place? I reread the first letter she sent me. I was making assumptions, but maybe the Question of Life that she found wasn't actually the question of life. Maybe she found a loophole in life. Maybe the fountain of youth? Maybe she found the fountain of youth since she sent 72 year old Jason who looked 30. I wondered what Carmen looked like. Jason pulled me out of my trance. "How long did you know Carmen?" I told him that I'd known her for a while, but  that she had just dropped off the map. He chuckled at that. Why did he chuckle? What was I missing? What weren't they telling me? He goes on that he'd known her for 50 years and that they met in school. He told me that he had been married, but his wife died. He had two kids. Jason also went on to say that he didn't know where Carmen was either and that he got a letter to help her find me. He never thought it would last this long. I asked him how long he had been looking and he said almost 30 years. 30 years!? I didn't think I can do this for 30 years. I also asked him if he knew when the last time he talked to her in person was. He told me, "The last I ever heard from her or seen her was the night before graduation. She told me she got a job somewhere and that she was leaving as soon as graduation ended. I asked her where she was going, but she didn't tell me. I worried about her through the entire graduation. They called her name and there she was. A big smile on her face strutting across the stage and grabbing that diploma. Me and her met eyes and her smile faded. I caught a flash of sadness in her eyes. Then she left the stage. After that I never heard from her again until I received a letter from her 30 years ago explaining that she needed help and that she needed you to help her." Why did it take her 30 years for her to finally contact me? What did she need help with? Did she need me to help her figure out the true question of life? Or was she in actual trouble? Now I was questioning myself. Was this the way I wanted to live my life? Looking for a person that couldn't be found? She was obviously alive if she was writing to me. I didn't have 30 years to dedicate to finding her. But why should I find her? I didn't want to waste the rest of my life looking for her. I wanted to live my own life. I didn't care if I was old and frail. I could do what I wanted with my life. But now I was stuck between helping Jason find her and helping myself and live the life I wanted, because sometimes it was okay to be selfish. 

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